After sinking countless hours into Bungie’s long-awaited sequel, Destiny 2 has shown that it’s the game everyone wants to, no, NEEDS to play. While our “review-in-progress” gave an idea of how good this game was, I was still only about 8 hours in and I had no idea how addicting this game would get. Hours of sleep were sacrificed at the expense of this game, friends were given rain-checks (unless they were wanted to hang out online), and I’m pretty sure at least one person in my house went hungry.
THAT is how solid this game is. Destiny 2 isn’t just a sequel to an already fun new franchise, it’s a borderline masterpiece that scratches the itch you didn’t know you had. It’s the game you never realize you wanted until you started playing it, and it’s the sequel fans young and old deserve.
While there were minor, and I mean MINOR, flaws and/or design decisions, nothing really holds this game back from truly shining as one hell of a fantastic game. Yes, not having matching making in Nightfall missions, STILL, baffles me, and the amount of enemies you have to manage during a boss fight can get borderline ridiculous. The “sort button” for mods is kind of useless, organizing things from newest to oldest isn’t as helpful as doing it by element, or type. Your Guardian’s ability to level up their light level tapers off significantly after hitting the 265 mark. Thats really it though in terms of complaints. This is all around a phenomenal game that deserves to be hailed as such.
After finishing the campaign I can confidently say that Bungie knocked it out of the park this time. The cutscenes are gorgeous, the emphasis on character development, good and bad, is superb, and you know exactly what it is you’re doing and for what reasons. Yes, “saving the world/universe” has become a cliché, but Destiny 2 takes this overused plot and makes it their own.
We know the good guys will win and the bad guys will lose, but the story is enjoyable regardless. The unique NPC’s you meet on every world add to this during gameplay as well. Divulging information for you to soak up as you traverse these jaw dropping, spectacular planets. Sometimes it’s just comedic banter and that’s okay too. Like Ash constantly making fun of and/or mocking Zavalla while you explore ruins on IO; or being that silent third-party while Failsafe and your Ghost have an awkward conversation on Nessus. These moments round out the worlds around you and pull you in even more.
Watching the three Vangaurds, Ikora, Zavalla, and Cayde-6 deal with the loss of their light in their own ways was a beautiful piece of story-telling. You empathize with these characters on a deeper level other than just “oh, he’s cool because he just punched that dude in the face.” Hell you even see a “human” side to Dominus Ghaul in a way. Yes he’s a giant, angry cabal that clearly didn’t get hugged enough as a kid, but at the same time he feels that what he suffered growing up, earns him the Light he so strongly desires.
He wants the Guardian’s light, but he wants to acquire it the way it is meant to be gained. He’s a conqueror, once he gets what he wants he destroy’s the star fueling the planets within that solar system and moves on, and yet I found myself having a love/hate relationship with him. Nothing makes a story better than a good villain, and Dominus Ghaul certainly hits the mark.
Story aside, Bungie has proven yet again that they are kings when it comes to making a tight shooter. The controls are very responsive and have never felt better. The updated progression system is a nice change of pace as well. While at first you start with one subclass, you randomly earn quests for the other two. Including all three subclasses in this game was a great design choice. The ability to change between Arc, Sun, and Void on the fly lets players adapt their load-outs to any situation.
While some have disagreed with the way these new sub-classes are obtained, I didn’t really see any issue with it. Yes, it’s random, so you never know when you’ll get it, but I still had all three unlocked before I was even close to finishing the campaign. The decision to have each sub-class have their jump and grenade options unlocked without having to dump an additional 12 more points into the other 2 classes was a very smart move. Even after hitting level 20 you still “level up” and are granted a bright engram and a skill point. This lets you max out all of your sub-classes in due time.
The new elemental focus on weapons is a great move as well. Matching the element with the shield of the enemies makes the weapon cause more damage, meaning that shield is going down in seconds. While the enemy species are the same, the new jobs they perform help vary the combat. Certain enemies use flame weapons; shooting the canisters on their backs, not only causes critical hits but turns the enemy into a walking time bomb for others around it. The dogs of the cabal are a fun, if not frustrating, addition to the ranks. Pack hunters, ferocious and fast, these hounds don’t hold back.
The enemy load-outs force you to stay on the move and keep you on your toes. Every enemy encounter makes you assess the situation and makes you make the hard decision of which enemy to take out first. Some enemies shield others from damage, but you might not know that until you take half the health away from the enemy being shielded. This adds a most welcome extra layer to combat. On top of that, there is almost always a barrel to shoot which can wipe out chunks of enemies at a time.
The worlds you get to explore are breathtaking. Each planet is unique to the inhabitants it holds and simply exploring the terrain is a joy in itself. There are items throughout the area that act as grimoire cards. You scan them with your Ghost and he fills you in on some back story or lore about the object and it’s significance. Every planet is peppered with lost sectors and random chests that spawn (or re-spawn) every time you visit a new world. This makes every planet instantly more valuable. Finishing your time with one is never truly over because you never know what new loot could be hiding there.
The only semi-frustrating thing about exploring the worlds you travel to is the lack of a Sparrow. These areas are huge, and unless you’re lucky enough to score one in a bright engram drop, you have to wait to beat the campaign before you can use one to get around. Luckily, I did but I know not everyone will have that same luxury.
I would like to take a quick second to recognize something not every game gets right. The soundtrack. Destiny 2 has one of THE best soundtracks to a game I have ever heard. It’s hard to not hum along while you traverse these giant landscapes. The transition to combat adds a sense of anxiety. These rocking or orchestral scores play in the background as enemies flood the area and add to the immersion. Lets be real, great game soundtracks are hard to come by.
The revamped loot system works pretty well overall. There were few times I earned weapons or armor that weren’t higher than the ones I had equipped. Even if it was just a point or two higher, every bit helps when you’re trying to boost that Light Level. There is a significant plateau that seems to happen though, once you get to the 265-270 range. Legendary Engrams are soft capped at 265 so getting something higher than that without mods equipped to it can get difficult. Apparently getting above 275 bumps that cap up to 274 but getting to that point can involve some serious grinding. That being said, at the time of this writing, the Raid has not dropped yet. I’m sure once that releases getting your Guardian up to 300 Light will be an easier task.
Outside of the campaign and playing the Crucible, Destiny 2 offers an immense amount of content post campaign and post hitting level 20. The amount of Adventures and quests that become available to you after beating the campaign is daunting. I’m still trying to sift through it all. Public Events are constantly happening as well and, if you can push them to Heroic Events, grant fantastic loot and XP. Not to mention the Strike and Nightfall missions are beyond fun, as well as adding a new layer of difficulty for those wanting to be continuously challenged. All of these new events and quests aren’t just there. They’re placed there with the intent of getting players to a higher Light Level. Participating in pretty much anything on planets earns you coins that you can turn in to that planet’s respective NPC. Every 20 coins pretty much gets you a full level with them and in turn they reward you with legendary engrams, which are necessary if you want to increase that Light.
Speaking of the Crucible, PvP is fun as hell. While there has been some minor issues finding groups to play with, the waits aren’t terribly long. The longest I waited for a match was maybe 3-4 minutes, so it’s not a buzzkill by any means. I’m sure once the “honeymoon period” is over the servers will be able to handle the traffic.
The change to 4v4 matches is great in my opinion. It offers a more intimate setting and the maps force you into close quarters where an opponent could be waiting around any corner. There is a sense of verticality to the maps as well which gives players with a sharp eye, the chance to find good sniping positions. The teams constantly feel balanced and if I died, I knew it was an error on my part, not the game. While some game modes are more fun than others, playing for an hour grants some great rewards. I’m not much of a PvP person, but I still found myself hopping on every now and again for a change of pace.
While some minor design flaws hold this game back from perfection, Destiny 2 is still nothing short of a masterpiece. From its new found focus on story, to the immense amount of content during the regular campaign and beyond, to the revamped PvP modes, Destiny 2 offers something for almost, if not every gamer. It’s soundtrack is spectacular and it’s worlds are gorgeous and full of life (and secrets). The most exciting thing about this game is that this is just the tip of the iceberg. With the Raid coming out in a few short days, and it’s constantly updating content, Destiny 2 will be on the mind and TV’s of gamers around the world for a long time to come.